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History

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC) ministry receives its impetus from Scripture: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). Thus, LMPC seeks to ground its peacemaking in a biblical understanding of salvation and Christian discipleship.

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center was founded in 1983 as a peace resource center overseen by a suburban Mennonite congregation. Serving primarily the Chicago Metropolitan area, LMPC provided both local churches and the broader public with speakers, audio-visual resources, and literature devoted to biblical peacemaking, including global issues such as the nuclear arms race.  In the early years we also worked with educators in school settings to establish peer mediation programs.

As demand increased and its reputation spread, LMPC programs were made available nationwide.  Multiple denominations encouraged their clergy members and lay leaders to attend our Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders.  Seminary training often neglects issues regarding conflict transformation, so participants were eager to acquire the skills and knowledge that helped them deal more effectively with conflict.

During the 1990s our Executive Director, Richard Blackburn, provided training in conflict transformation in venues outside of the United States, including Yugoslavia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.  From 2006 to 2013 he taught summer courses in Florence, Italy on behalf of Southern Methodist University. More recently Reverend Blackburn has led a Peacemaker’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land every other January.

In 1998 LMPC reorganized as an independent not-for-profit ministry.  Throughout the years we have remained committed to a range of peace and justice concerns viewed from a biblical perspective.  Our five-day Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders has been presented over 200 times involving more than 7,000 participants.  We have become a nationally recognized ministry for training church leaders in understandings grounded in family systems thinking via our nine-day Clergy Clinic and Advanced Clergy Clinic.  We also offer a variety of shorter workshops grounded in systems theory that are designed to help both clergy and lay leaders function in a more differentiated manner in the midst of congregational anxieties.  Equally important as our workshops are the mediation services we offer to individuals, churches, and other organizations.  Ultimately our mission is to help Christ’s church grow increasingly in health and wholeness, into all that God wants the church to be.